This week, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court struck down a California law requiring that anti-abortion, fake health centers provide women with complete and accurate information about abortion.
The conservative majority claimed that California could not prove a compelling interest for providing patents with comprehensive medical resources, and therefore ruled that the law violates the First Amendment as it compels speech that could betray one’s religious beliefs.
The four liberal justices dissented, as they believed California had a substantial interest in providing accurate medical information about constitutionally protected services like abortion to its citizens.
Dissenting, Justice Breyer wrote, “Using the First Amendment to strike down economic and social laws that legislatures long would have thought themselves free to enact will, for the American public, obscure, not clarify, the true value of protecting freedom of speech.”
Justice Neil Gorsuch predictably ruled with the majority. Trump appointed Gorsuch with the intention that he would be a hardline vote against women’s reproductive rights.
Fake clinics are state funded and oppose abortion on religious grounds. However, accurate medical information is vital to women’s health.
“When it comes to making their health decisions, all California women — regardless of their economic background or ZIP code — deserve access to critical and nonbiased information to make their own informed decisions,” Xavier Becerra, the Attorney General of California said.
Under the California law, pro-life, fake clinics were required to hang notices with information about where free or low-cost abortions were available to women. The law also required unlicensed clinics to disclose that they are unlicensed, as many try to attract women by appearing like an abortion clinic.
Fake clinics lie to women about the side effects of abortions in order to persuade them not to seek an abortion. Personnel wear white coats matching the attire worn by legitimate doctors and falsely claim that abortions cause infertility or breast cancer. Deceptive advertisements in these clinics are designed to confuse women as they make time-sensitive decisions about whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term.
This decision follows the passage of a string of state measures aiming to restrict abortion. Earlier this month, Iowa tried to pass a heartbeat abortion ban, which was temporarily blocked by a District Court.
Later this summer, the Trump Administration plans to implement a domestic gag rule that will strip federal funding from abortion clinics receiving Title X funding for birth control. The comment period for the rule opened last week.
Media Resources: New York Times 6/26/18; CNN 6/26/18; Feminist Newswire 4/7/17, 11/11/13, 6/18/18, 5/23/18